Analysis about phytotherapy as an integrating practice in the Brazilian Unified Health System (UHS)

The growing use of phytotherapy as an integrating medical practice in several countries has been remarkable. The use of medicinal plants in Brazil is facilitated by the plant diversity and low cost associated with therapeutics, which has called the attention of health assistance programs and professionals. The Brazilian Ministry of Health, in order to avoid misuse of this medical practice, has demonstrated interest, developing policies that encourage research related to this issue and favoring the establishment of health programs focused on the distribution and use of these drugs in a rational way. Based on this context, a survey about how this issue has been addressed and implemented in the Unified Health System (UHS) was carried out. This was a descriptive study of qualitative approach, performed through a literature review in databases, related to the theme "phytotherapic medicines in the unified health system". The key words used throughout the study were: phytotherapy, phytomedicines, integrating medicine, medicines, herbal medicine, phytotherapy in the UHS, integrating medicine and public health systems. The government has shown interest in developing policies which combine technological advances with common knowledge for the sake of assistance health procedures that show effectiveness, coverage, humanization and less dependence on the pharmaceutical industry. In the last two decades, some Brazilian states and municipalities have implemented Phytotherapy Programs in primary health care in order to meet the drug needs of their communities. Despite the growing search for integrating drugs, studies about phytotherapy are still limited in Brazil, with the need of research in this area in order to increase the knowledge of health professionals and students, helping and making more solid the safety and efficacy bases for the implementation of phytotherapic practices in the UHS.

integrating medicine; unified health system; phytotherapy

Sociedade Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais CPQBA - UNICAMP, Divisão de Agrotecnologia - CPQBA, 13148-218 Paulínia- SP-Brasil, Tel. (55 19) 2139-2891, Fax: (55 19) 2139-2852 - Botucatu - SP - Brazil